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Bauer Gives Mourad Three Stars, Feels the Heat at Hawker Fare

Plus: Dosa is still pretty good, and Elmira Rosticceria has rustic charm.

Patricia Chang

For his Sunday review, Michael Bauer thinks Mourad is the bee's knees, though not yet fully realized: "Many diners will feel that the food is fantastic — and on several levels it is — but it’s only scratching the surface of what I know is in Lahlou’s soul...It feels as if the intent is still a little fuzzy." Additionally, he found that "Mourad is an ambitious project with equally ambitious aspirations, and seems destined to have national impact. But whereas Aziza is more modest in its ambition, it feels complete. Mourad is a beautiful house, but not quite yet a home." Three stars. [Chron]

In honor of its 10th anniversary, Michael Bauer updates his opinion of Dosa's Valencia Street location: "The food under new chef Dinesh Kumar is good, but I wished for a little more finesse. For example, the seasonal vegetable uttapam ($13.50), which resembles a thin pancake, was so doughy that the batter actually stuck to my teeth." Some dishes, like the lamb korma were winners, but must of the menu "was hit and miss." Ultimately, Bauer concluded that "while it’s still a popular stop, it seems as if the kitchen and some of the staff at Dosa is on autopilot. Yet with all the components and complexity that goes into preparing Indian food, it’s hard to be truly disappointed." Two stars. [Chron]

For his Thursday Update, Michael Bauer experiences the culinary equivalent of "Fifty Shades of Grey" at Hawker Fare: Chef-owner James Syhabout's recent leap across the bay elicited a visit from Bauer to Hawker Fare's new Mission location. "At the San Francisco branch, he’s created a similar, but expanded, menu. Often with an expansion, the soul is lost, but Syhabout has maintained the food’s vibrant nature." Things got real when Bauer had a taste of Syhabout's authentic and liberal use of spice: "By the end of one of my three visits, it felt as if flames had scorched my tongue, a sort of culinary equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey." Even the dishes that aren’t as spicy have an assertive earthiness, such as vegetables stewed with knobs of pork rib ($13), Thai eggplant and still-crunchy long beans." Three stars. [Chron]

Luke Tsai time-travels to 1982, finds vegan sandwiches galore at Analog: The tiny, new bar from owners Arianna Alcala and Sean Asmar (proprietor of Bender's Bar and Grillin San Francisco) is a cozy place where carnivores and vegans can enjoy sandwiches side-by-side, along with a selection of craft beers and a healthy dose of vinyl-fueled nostalgia. "You don't have to be vegan to bow down to the glory of a sandwich Asmar has dubbed 'The Young and the Breastless,' probably the finest vegan sandwich I've eaten in recent memory." [EBX]

Wendy Hector loves Italy, and Elmira Rosticceria: "At first glance it might look like a café, but the food coming out of Elmira’s kitchen is anything but pedestrian coffee shop fare." In fact, "It’s obvious from every bite of food that an immense amount of love has been put into each dish, and while they might not all be flawless, they all exhibit thoughtfulness and honest, rustic charm. Fresh, flavorful ingredients prepared with care — sometimes that’s all it takes to make the day better." [SF Examiner]